The state legislature will be holding informational hearings Thursday on a controversial plan to bring a genetic research institute to the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington.
The hearings will be held in advance of next week's special session that has been called by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in an effort to create jobs.
The tax-writing finance committee will hold an informational 90-minute hearing for invited speakers on Jackson from 10:30 a.m. until 12 noon at the state Capitol complex in Hartford. Then the legislature's commerce committee will hold a separate hearing for invited speakers on the details of the jobs session from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
After those separate hearings, the general public will be invited to speak about the Jackson Lab and jobs at a joint hearing of the two committees from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Room 2C at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Malloy has touted the Jackson Lab as a major coup for the state as 300 employees are expected at the Jackson building within 10 years. An econometric model says that 6,800 direct and indirect jobs will be created over 20 years, but Republicans have scoffed at those numbers by saying that accurate economic predictions over two decades are virtually impossible.
Sen. Len Suzio, a conservative Republican from Meriden, is charging that Malloy is "desperate'' for a major economic victory to restart the state's sluggish economy. Malloy is expected to have support from Democratic legislators who control both the state House of Representatives and the Senate, but Suzio says he will be raising questions about the proposal.
"The wheel is spinning, and the Democratic votes have to come in or he's going to go bust at the table,'' Suzio said of Malloy. "To me, it's a measure of sheer desperation. It's like the gambler who has lost everything and if you loan him $10,000 and he hits the jackpot, he'll pay everybody back.''
But Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's senior adviser and chief spokesman, has a sharply different view, saying that the Jackson Lab proposal is a critical opportunity for the state economy.
"It is the most significant economic development to come to Connecticut in a long, long time,'' Occhiogrosso said. "When was the last time Connecticut led in anything - other than negative job growth?''
Regarding Suzio, Occhiogrosso said, "If the future of Connecticut's economy depended on Senator Suzio's view of the world, I would put my children in their car seats tonight and head north or south or west or northeast. Thankfully for the state of Connecticut, he has only one vote.''Copyright © 2015, CT Now